Why I Went to Taiwan
Most dancers who’ve toured with Shen Yun for at least three years have been to Taiwan. That’s because our companies generally rotate on an annual basis between tours of North America, Europe, and Asia, and so odds are anyone who’s been around long enough has enjoyed spending at least a month in Taiwan, performing nine shows a week in front of sold-out theaters, visiting the night markets, feasting on delicacies strange and wonderful. Or so I’ve heard.
By destiny or luck of the draw, I’ve never toured to Taiwan, even though this is my seventh year with Shen Yun. Whenever it came time for me to finally go to Asia I would get switched companies. Or my company would get switched tour destinations.
That’s why this year, for my post-tour vacation I decided to visit Taiwan. What made me want to go the most, though, wasn’t the great food or friendly people I’d heard of, but a question I’ve been wanting answered for a while: What might China be like if it weren’t under communist rule?
When the Communist Party defeated the Nationalist Party in the Chinese Civil War, shortly after World War II, the Nationalist Party fled to the island of Taiwan and established a separate republic. When they fled, they took a great deal of Chinese relics with them. And it’s a good thing they did, because, shortly after, the communists on the mainland started the Cultural Revolution and destroyed mind-boggling amounts of Chinese artifacts and, indeed, traditional Chinese culture itself.
And so it is that Taiwan became one of the only places to find authentic Chinese culture today. Being a culturally free society, ethnic Chinese in Taiwan were able to preserve much more of their traditional values and beliefs. That is why I feel like Taiwan is a good example of what China might have been like if there were no communism. Sure, there would still be other forces like Japanese influence, modernization, Americanization, globalization—but there wouldn’t be a force that sought to destroy the culture from within, from its very root, and replace it with something else.
And that’s what I found during my Taiwan visit. In the beginning of this video, a huge monument reads, “天下為公” (tiān xià wèi gōng) meaning, “The country should belong to everyone.” This is a huge characteristic of Taiwan. This video is a look at this amazing country through my vacationing eyes.
Dancer with Shen Yun Touring Company
July 14, 2016